LearnLaunchX’s Demo Day Introduces New Solutions to EdTech
The edtech startups at the LearnLaunchX demo day showcased solutions for problems from apathetic math learners to outdated admissions marketing.
LearnLaunchX’s second cohort, based in Boston, revealed the progress they’ve made while under the wing of the startup space. After three months of intense collaboration and mentorship these innovative ideas transformed into developed products.
Book & Table
Book & Table is a marketplace that connects tutors with students through their personalized site. Maurice Wright, the co-founder wanted to build a product to help with the problem of finding tutors and create a great learning experience. Through the website, students pick a city, a course, and find a professional tutor who has been vetted by the company. Wright said students talk directly to the tutor of their choice, getting rid of the middleman. Book & Table’s goal is to increase the structure and transparency of getting a tutor by keeping everyone in the loop. Parents are sent information and feedback to keep them aware of the information being taught and the progress of the student.
At this point, Book & Table has recruited about 300 educators that have at least two years of experience. Once students start using the tutors, reviews will begin to accumulate on the educator’s profile.
Campuscene is a marketing platform that helps college admissions offices with student engagement. The co-founder, Dave Myer, said that the amount of colleges that students apply to have readily been increasing. Now, students apply to more than seven schools, which makes it difficult for the admissions office to know if an applicant is actually serious about enrolling. Myer said that schools are good at pushing out information, but need help bringing it back in to see which applicants are reaching out via the web. Campuscene feeds back this valuable information to the school and can then better predict if the applicant is best for the school. The platform gives colleges ownership of their website and allows them complete autonomy and control. Campuscene announced they just signed with Brown University.
CueThink is a social platform that engages students in math through the use of ipads. Sheela Sethuraman said the way that math is taught today kids are disengaged and interest drops, but by using CueThink math is not just a subject – it is taught as a conversation. Kids are already trying to socialize throughout the day with their peers, Sethuraman said, why not bring that into the classroom. Not only does this help kids become better at critical thinking and communication, but learning from peers helps improve their math language. Kids enjoy seeings another person’s work and for teachers it brings insight into the thinking process.
The platform extends the arm of the teacher in the classroom and asks students to go through problems step by step, starting with asking students what they know about the problem already, what their proposed solution would be, and then a review. Teachers often do not have the time do this with each student. Sethuraman said CueThink is an interactive application that helps bring together all the teacher’s tools.
Hstry is a digital learning tool that enables learners to create interactive historical timelines and uses Twitter for students to engage with history in “real time”. Thomas Ketchell, the co-founder, said Hstry began when he was visiting Beijing and witnessed the horrible air pollution. Inspired, Ketchell created a fictional character and live tweeted the Great Smog of London, the worst air pollution disaster, as if reliving the event. He created a hashtag and gained interaction. 1.5 million people caught on, among them politicians and environmentalist.
Ketchell used this experience to co-found Hstry. He said engaging with textbooks is an outdated delivery and built a platform and historical timelines off of their experience with social media. The social aspect of the platform fosters collaboration and interaction through tweets and quiz questions.
Hstry piloted their product with an ipad-only school and found kids were engaged and the students said they truly learned history for once. Another school in Brookline, Massachusetts, followed along to Hstry’s live tweet of Paul Revere’s ride and wrote 563 comments on Twitter.
QuadWrangle is a platform that creates more valuable alumni engagement. Nick Zeckets, the co-founder, said right now the industry goes in one direction and is an archaic and shallow disconnected technology. QuadWrangle brings alumni together and uses their data to contextualize, personalize and connect. The software writes a story about alumni hundreds of words long so that schools can get to know them better. By doing this schools are able to make personalized connections to compel the alumni in deeper ways and make them more apt to want to give back. Schools will finally be able to talk to alumni on a personal level instead of asking for contributions in an impersonal and ultimately, ineffective way.
Skaffl is a tablet workflow solution for schools who are given ipads and want to go paperless. Rita Chesterton said that once schools go paperless teachers are faced with a crazy amount of apps and it becomes even messier. Chesterton created Skaffl to help teachers with this transition into paperless technology. Skaffl makes sure ipads are being used to their potential and that students, parents, and administrators are all working together in the most effective way.
With Skaffl, teacher can create lesson plans and grade in the app. Administrator can pull data about what’s going on, and parents have access to lesson plans, and know exactly what’s due when. Students can write directly in the ipad and hand it in. And parents and teachers can see what students are working on so they can keep track of student progress.
So far, 1,800 teachers have signed up to use Skaffl in thier classroom.
uConnect has set out to make sure students can rely on their own school’s career center to help them transition into rewarding careers. David Kozhuk, the founder, said the career services is the most important function in higher education, and career prep is the number one concern for students, but yet the department is usually underserved. Kozhuk said the websites are poorly designed and out of date and because of this 50 percent of students never use their career services.
uConnect is a job search website and mobile application that builds tools for students to plan and launch their career. With enhanced data and analytics, uConnect allows the department to figure out how students are engaging with the career center. The platform automatically feeds in the best content from third party sites and uConnect partners with other companies to promote recruiting opportunities. Kozhuk said better design, content and delivery increases student engagement.
Five schools are paying for a subscription right now, including MIT and Boston College.
For more information, visit LearnLaunchX online.
Photo credit: Sonal Dhingra
Michelle is a current graduate student at Emerson College and an intern at Boston's public radio station. She enjoys exploring the world of educational technology and writing about the ever-changing sector and its potential.